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Pints With Aquinas

If you could sit down with St. Thomas Aquinas over a pint of beer and ask him any one question, what would it be? Every episode of Pints With Aquinas revolves around a question, a question that St. Thomas addresses in his most famous work, The Summa Theologica. So get your geek on, pull up a bar stool, and grab a cold one. Here we go!
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Feb 28, 2017

Be awesome and support PWA here: www.patreon.com/pwa Give $5 or more and you'll get access to the entire audio book of Aquinas' meditations for Lent.

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Back when I worked as an apologist with Catholic Answers we received a lot of questions around this time of year. Perhaps the most common was, “are Sunday’s excluded from Lent?”

The answer is . . . are you ready for this?

No. Sunday’s are not excluded from Lent. According to the General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, “Lent runs from Ash Wednesday until the Mass of the Lord’s Supper exclusive” (28).

No exceptions are given for Sunday’s during Lent. In fact, a couple of paragraphs later the GN says: “The Sundays of this season are called the First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent. The Sixth Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week, is called Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday)” (30).

So there you have it. Now, does that mean that we cannot choose to allow ourselves the things we voluntarily gave up for lent? No, it doesn’t. These voluntary fasts are personal devotions. Because they have been voluntarily taken up, we can choose to set them aside.

That said, be awesome and sacrifice this Lent. What my P.E coach told me in middle-school applies to Lent also, “mate, if it’s not hurting, you’re not doing it right.”

Link to GN here: https://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDWLITYR.HTM

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Thanks to the following patrons of Pints With Aquinas

Jed Florstat

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Katherine Szojka

Shawn Pierce

Feb 27, 2017

Today I chat with Dr. Robert Delfino about Thomas' 5th argument for God's existence.

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Here is the translation from the Fathers of the English Dominican Province (ST 1, Q. 2, A. 3.):

"The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God."

Here's Delfino's translation: 

The fifth way is taken from the governance of things. For we see some things that lack knowledge, namely natural bodies, act for the sake of some end. This is apparent from the fact that they always or most often act in the same way and achieve what is best [i.e., what fulfils their natural needs]. From this it is obvious that they achieve their end not by chance but by natural inclination (ex intentione). But those things that lack knowledge do not tend toward an end except under the direction of something with knowledge and intelligence, as in the case of an arrow from an archer. Therefore there is some intelligent being by whom all natural things (omnes res naturales) are ordered to an end, and this we call God.

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Defino's 10 step argument:


1. We see in nature that non-intelligent things act for a goal that is good with regularity. For example, it is in the nature of an electron to be attracted to protons, which helps to form atoms.

2. If electrons did not have this natural inclination then none of the elements on the periodic table you studied in Chemistry would form, which would mean that none of the physical life forms we know (including yourself!) would exist anywhere in the physical universe. But that would be bad, because life is good.

3. In the case of electrons being attracted to protons, we cannot ascribe such behavior to chance or to biological evolution. In the case of chance, chance would not explain why the electrons act with such regularity because chance refers to what happens rarely.

4. In the case of biological evolution, this is because the regularity of action in the case of electrons exists prior to biological evolution and is necessary in order to make biological evolution possible.

5. An intelligent cause can direct something for a goal that is good with regularity. For example, consider an archer who, with routine success, directs his arrows towards the animals he is hunting for food. However, these regular actions of the arrows, which are made of wood, do not represent the natural actions of wood. Instead, they represent something imposed on the wood of the arrows by the archer. This is similar to how a puppeteer imposes movement on a puppet, and how a watchmaker orders the part of a watch to tell time.

6. An intelligent cause is able to do this because having intelligence allows one to envision something mentally that does not yet exist physically (for example, envisioning a watch before it was invented). Non-intelligent matter cannot order itself to an end that is good precisely because it is incapable of thought.

7. However, human intelligence cannot explain why an electron has, within its own nature, an inclination to be attracted to protons because electrons exist prior to humans and humans could not exist without electrons already having these natural inclinations.

8. In our attempt to explain why electrons, as non-intelligent beings, have a natural inclination to be attracted to protons, which makes life possible, we have ruled out the material aspect of the electron, chance, biological evolution, and human intelligence.


9. Therefore, there must be some non-human intelligence that is responsible for the natural inclinations of electrons.

10. This non-human intelligence cannot achieve this by imposing activity on the electron in a manner similar to a puppeteer or a watchmaker. Instead, this non-human intelligence must be capable of endowing an electron with its being and nature.

Conclusion: We call this non-human intelligence God.

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Thanks to the following patrons of Pints With Aquinas

 

Jed Florstat

Daniel Szafran

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Shawn Pierce

Feb 21, 2017

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As Augustine says (De Civ. Dei i, 13): "If a father's coat or ring, or anything else of that kind, is so much more cherished by his children, as love for one's parents is greater, in no way are the bodies themselves to be despised, which are much more intimately and closely united to us than any garment; for they belong to man's very nature." It is clear from this that he who has a certain affection for anyone, venerates whatever of his is left after his death, not only his body and the parts thereof, but even external things, such as his clothes, and such like. Now it is manifest that we should show honor to the saints of God, as being members of Christ, the children and friends of God, and our intercessors. Wherefore in memory of them we ought to honor any relics of theirs in a fitting manner: principally their bodies, which were temples, and organs of the Holy Ghost dwelling and operating in them, and are destined to be likened to the body of Christ by the glory of the Resurrection. Hence God Himself fittingly honors such relics by working miracles at their presence.

ST III, Q. 25, A. 6.

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Thanks to the following patrons of Pints With Aquinas

 

Jed Florstat

Daniel Szafran

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Phillipe Ortiz

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Katherine Szojka

Shawn Pierce

Feb 14, 2017

I chat with my mate, Gomer, about what St. Thomas (and the Catholic Church teaches) about grace.

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Support the show: www.patreon.com/pwa 

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Learn more about my guest Gomer - http://www.layevangelist.com/

And his podcast Catching Foxes here - http://www.layevangelist.com/catchingfoxes/

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Thanks to the following patrons of Pints With Aquinas

Jed Florstat

Daniel Szafran

Phillip Hadden

Katie Kuchar

 

Phillipe Ortiz

Malcolm Paul MacDonald

Nick Sungenis

Kevin Donaoe

Dennis Mahoney

Katherine Szojka

Shawn Pierce

Feb 7, 2017

Support the show here - www.patreon.com/pwa

Learn more about PWA here - PintsWithAquinas.com

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Huge thanks to Philipe Ortiz and Katie Kuchar in particular for supporting to the show!

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Today I read from The Aquinas Catechism. You can get that book here: https://www.amazon.com/Aquinas-Catechism-Explanation-Catholic-Theologian/dp/1928832105

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Thanks to the following patrons of Pints With Aquinas

 

Jed Florstat

Daniel Szafran

Phillip Hadden

Katie Kuchar

Phillipe Ortiz

Malcolm Paul MacDonald

Nick Sungenis

Kevin Donaoe

Dennis Mahoney

Katherine Szojka

Shawn Pierce

 

Feb 2, 2017

www.PintsWithAquinas.com

Here's the article I read in the show: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/01/31/saint-thomas-aquinas-opposed-open-borders/

Here's the link to the closed FB group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/193832791087931/

The Catechism:

Here's what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about welcoming foreigners:

"The more prosperous nations are obliged, to the extent they are able, to welcome the foreigner in search of the security and the means of livelihood which he cannot find in his country of origin. Public authorities should see to it that the natural right is respected that places a guest under the protection of those who receive him.

Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible, may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants' duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens" 2241.

The Summa

Here's what I read from Thomas:

"Man's relations with foreigners are twofold: peaceful, and hostile: and in directing both kinds of relation the Law contained suitable precepts.

For the Jews were offered three opportunities of peaceful relations with foreigners.

First, when foreigners passed through their land as travelers.

Secondly, when they came to dwell in their land as newcomers. And in both these respects the Law made kind provision in its precepts: for it is written (Exodus 22:21): "Thou shalt not molest a stranger [advenam]"; and again (Exodus 22:9): "Thou shalt not molest a stranger [peregrino]."

Thirdly, when any foreigners wished to be admitted entirely to their fellowship and mode of worship. With regard to these a certain order was observed. For they were not at once admitted to citizenship: just as it was law with some nations that no one was deemed a citizen except after two or three generations, as the Philosopher says (Polit. iii, 1).

The reason for this was that if foreigners were allowed to meddle with the affairs of a nation as soon as they settled down in its midst, many dangers might occur, since the foreigners not yet having the common good firmly at heart might attempt something hurtful to the people.

Hence it was that the Law prescribed in respect of certain nations that had close relations with the Jews (viz., the Egyptians among whom they were born and educated, and the Idumeans, the children of Esau, Jacob's brother), that they should be admitted to the fellowship of the people after the third generation; whereas others (with whom their relations had been hostile, such as the Ammonites and Moabites) were never to be admitted to citizenship; while the Amalekites, who were yet more hostile to them, and had no fellowship of kindred with them, were to be held as foes in perpetuity: for it is written (Exodus 17:16): "The war of the Lord shall be against Amalec from generation to generation."

Jan 31, 2017

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Huge thanks to Philipe Ortiz and Katie Kuchar in particular for supporting to the show!

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We may speak about prayer in two ways: first, by considering it in itself; secondly, by considering it in its cause. The cause of prayer is the desire of charity, from which prayer ought to arise: and this desire ought to be in us continually, either actually or virtually, for the virtue of this desire remains in whatever we do out of charity; and we ought to "do all things to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). From this point of view prayer ought to be continual: wherefore Augustine says (ad Probam, Ep. cxxx, 9): "Faith, hope and charity are by themselves a prayer of continual longing." But prayer, considered in itself, cannot be continual, because we have to be busy about other works, and, as Augustine says (ad Probam. Ep. cxxx, 9), "we pray to God with our lips at certain intervals and seasons, in order to admonish ourselves by means of such like signs, to take note of the amount of our progress in that desire, and to arouse ourselves more eagerly to an increase thereof." Now the quantity of a thing should be commensurate with its end, for instance the quantity of the dose should be commensurate with health. And so it is becoming that prayer should last long enough to arouse the fervor of the interior desire: and when it exceeds this measure, so that it cannot be continued any longer without causing weariness, it should be discontinued. Wherefore Augustine says (ad Probam. Ep. cxxx): "It is said that the brethren in Egypt make frequent but very short prayers, rapid ejaculations, as it were, lest that vigilant and erect attention which is so necessary in prayer slacken and languish, through the strain being prolonged. By so doing they make it sufficiently clear not only that this attention must not be forced if we are unable to keep it up, but also that if we are able to continue, it should not be broken off too soon." And just as we must judge of this in private prayers by considering the attention of the person praying, so too, in public prayers we must judge of it by considering the devotion of the people.

 

Objection 1. It would seem that prayer should not be continual. It is written (Matthew 6:7): "When you are praying, speak not much." Now one who prays a long time needs to speak much, especially if his be vocal prayer. Therefore prayer should not last a long time.

Reply to Objection 1. As Augustine says (ad Probam. Ep. cxxx), "to pray with many words is not the same as to pray long; to speak long is one thing, to be devout long is another. For it is written that our Lord passed the whole night in prayer, and that He 'prayed the longer' in order to set us an example." Further on he says: "When praying say little, yet pray much so long as your attention is fervent. For to say much in prayer is to discuss your need in too many words: whereas to pray much is to knock at the door of Him we pray, by the continuous and devout clamor of the heart. Indeed this business is frequently done with groans rather than with words, with tears rather than with speech."

Objection 4. On the contrary, It would seem that we ought to pray continually. For our Lord said (Luke 18:1): "We ought always to pray, and not to faint": and it is written (1 Thessalonians 5:17): "Pray without ceasing."

Reply to Objection 4. One may pray continually, either through having a continual desire, as stated above; or through praying at certain fixed times, though interruptedly; or by reason of the effect, whether in the person who prays--because he remains more devout even after praying, or in some other person--as when by his kindness a man incites another to pray for him, even after he himself has ceased praying.

 ST. II-II, Q. 83, A. 14.

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Thanks to http://www.bensound.com/ for some of the music.

Jan 24, 2017

This is an unusual episode. Instead of looking to Aquinas we look to the Song of Songs and I share a few thoughts on it and how it relates to the spiritual life.

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Jan 24, 2017

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Jan 17, 2017

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Huge thanks to Philipe Ortiz and Katie Kuchar in particular for supporting to the show!

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I answer that, A thing is said to be necessary for a certain end in two ways. First, when the end cannot be without it; as food is necessary for the preservation of human life. Secondly, when the end is attained better and more conveniently, as a horse is necessary for a journey. In the first way it was not necessary that God should become incarnate for the restoration of human nature. For God with His omnipotent power could have restored human nature in many other ways. But in the second way it was necessary that God should become incarnate for the restoration of human nature. Hence Augustine says (De Trin. xii, 10): "We shall also show that other ways were not wanting to God, to Whose power all things are equally subject; but that there was not a more fitting way of healing our misery."

Now this may be viewed with respect to our "furtherance in good." First, with regard to faith, which is made more certain by believing God Himself Who speaks; hence Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xi, 2): "In order that man might journey more trustfully toward the truth, the Truth itself, the Son of God, having assumed human nature, established and founded faith." Secondly, with regard to hope, which is thereby greatly strengthened; hence Augustine says (De Trin. xiii): "Nothing was so necessary for raising our hope as to show us how deeply Godloved us. And what could afford us a stronger proof of this than that the Son of God should become a partner with us of human nature?" Thirdly, with regard to charity, which is greatly enkindled by this; hence Augustine says (De Catech. Rudib. iv): "What greater cause is there of the Lord's coming than to show God's love for us?" And he afterwards adds: "If we have been slow to love, at least let us hasten to love in return." Fourthly, with regard to well-doing, in which He set us an example; hence Augustine says in a sermon (xxii de Temp.): "Man who might be seen was not to be followed; but God was to be followed, Who could not be seen. And therefore God was made man, that He Who might be seen by man, and Whom man might follow, might be shown to man." Fifthly, with regard to the full participation of the Divinity, which is the true bliss of man and end of human life; and this is bestowed upon us by Christ's humanity; for Augustine says in a sermon (xiii de Temp.): "God was made man, that man might be made God."

So also was this useful for our "withdrawal from evil." First, because man is taught by it not to prefer the devil to himself, nor to honor him who is the author of sin; hence Augustine says (De Trin. xiii, 17): "Since human nature is so united to God as to become one person, let not these proud spirits dare to prefer themselves to man, because they have no bodies." Secondly, because we are thereby taught how great is man's dignity, lest we should sully it with sin; hence Augustine says (De Vera Relig. xvi): "God has proved to us how high a place humannature holds amongst creatures, inasmuch as He appeared to men as a true man." And Pope Leo says in a sermon on the Nativity (xxi): "Learn, O Christian, thy worth; and being made a partner of the Divine nature, refuse to return by evil deeds to your former worthlessness." Thirdly, because, "in order to do away with man's presumption, the grace of God is commended in Jesus Christ, though no merits of ours went before," as Augustine says (De Trin. xiii, 17). Fourthly, because "man's pride, which is the greatest stumbling-block to our clinging to God, can be convinced and cured by humility so great," as Augustine says in the same place. Fifthly, in order to free man from the thraldom of sin, which, as Augustine says (De Trin. xiii, 13), "ought to be done in such a way that the devil should be overcome by the justice of the man Jesus Christ," and this was done by Christ satisfying for us. Now a mere man could not have satisfied for the whole human race, and God was not bound to satisfy; hence it behooved Jesus Christ to be both God and man. Hence Pope Leo says in the same sermon: "Weakness is assumed by strength, lowliness by majesty, mortality by eternity, in order that one and the same Mediator of God and men might die in one and rise in the other--for this was our fitting remedy. Unless He was God, He would not have brought a remedy; and unless He was man, He would not have set an example."

And there are very many other advantages which accrued, above man's apprehension.

ST III, Q. 1, A. 2.

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Thanks to http://www.bensound.com/ for some of the music.

Jan 10, 2017

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In this episode Dr. Damian Ference and I discuss Aquinas' four remedies for sorrow.

Since go quickly through 5 articles, I won't post his text here. Instead read them online here: http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2038.htm

 

 

Jan 3, 2017

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There are three ways of knowing a thing: first, by revelation, and thus anyone may know that he has grace, for God by a special privilege reveals this at times to some, in order that the joy of safety may begin in them even in this life, and that they may carry on toilsome works with greater trust and greater energy, and may bear the evils of this present life, as when it was said to Paul (2 Corinthians 12:9): "My grace is sufficient for thee."

Secondly, a man may, of himself, know something, and with certainty; and in this way no one can know that he has grace. For certitude about a thing can only be had when we may judge of it by its proper principle. Thus it is by undemonstrable universal principles that certitude is obtained concerning demonstrative conclusions. Now no one can know he has the knowledge of a conclusion if he does not know its principle. But the principle of grace and its object is God, Who by reason of His very excellence is unknown to us, according to Job 36:26: "Behold God is great, exceeding our knowledge." And hence His presence in us and His absence cannot be known with certainty, according to Job 9:11: "If He come to me, I shall not see Him; if He depart I shall not understand." And hence man cannot judge with certainty that he has grace, according to 1 Corinthians 4:3-4: "But neither do I judge my own self . . . but He that judgeth me is the Lord."

Thirdly, things are known conjecturally by signs; and thus anyone may know he has grace, when he is conscious of delighting in God, and of despising worldly things, and inasmuch as a man is not conscious of any mortal sin. And thus it is written (Apocalypse 2:17): "To him that overcometh I will give the hidden manna . . . which no man knoweth, but he that receiveth it," because whoever receives it knows, by experiencing a certain sweetness, which he who does not receive it, does not experience. Yet this knowledge is imperfect; hence the Apostle says (1 Corinthians 4:4): "I am not conscious to myself of anything, yet am I not hereby justified," since, according to Psalm 18:13: "Who can understand sins? From my secret ones cleanse me, O Lord, and from those of others spare Thy servant."

 

ST I-II. Q. 112, A. 5.

Dec 27, 2016

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Does man have free will?

It is written (Sirach 15:14): "God made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel"; and the gloss adds: "That is of his free-will."

I answer that, Man has free-will: otherwise counsels, exhortations, commands, prohibitions, rewards, and punishments would be in vain. In order to make this evident, we must observe that some things act without judgment; as a stone moves downwards; and in like manner all things which lack knowledge. And some act from judgment, but not a free judgment; as brute animals. For the sheep, seeing the wolf, judges it a thing to be shunned, from a natural and not a free judgment, because it judges, not from reason, but from natural instinct. And the same thing is to be said of any judgment of brute animals. But man acts from judgment, because by his apprehensive power he judges that something should be avoided or sought. But because this judgment, in the case of some particular act, is not from a natural instinct, but from some act of comparison in the reason, therefore he acts from free judgment and retains the power of being inclined to various things. For reason in contingent matters may follow opposite courses, as we see in dialectic syllogisms and rhetorical arguments. Now particular operations are contingent, and therefore in such matters the judgment of reason may follow opposite courses, and is not determinate to one. And forasmuch as man is rational is it necessary that man have a free-will.

ST. I, Q. 83, A. 1.

Does God know future contingent things?

God knows all things; not only things actual but also things possible to Him and creature; and since some of these are future contingent to us, it follows that God knows future contingent things.

In evidence of this, we must consider that a contingent thing can be considered in two ways; first, in itself, in so far as it is now in act: and in this sense it is not considered as future, but as present; neither is it considered as contingent (as having reference) to one of two terms, but as determined to one; and on account of this it can be infallibly the object of certain knowledge, for instance to the sense of sight, as when I see that Socrates is sitting down. In another way a contingent thing can be considered as it is in its cause; and in this way it is considered as future, and as a contingent thing not yet determined to one; forasmuch as a contingent cause has relation to opposite things: and in this sense a contingent thing is not subject to any certain knowledge. Hence, whoever knows a contingent effect in its cause only, has merely a conjectural knowledge of it. Now God knows all contingent things not only as they are in their causes, but also as each one of them is actually in itself. And although contingent things become actual successively, nevertheless God knows contingent things not successively, as they are in their own being, as we do but simultaneously. The reason is because His knowledge is measured by eternity, as is also His being; and eternity being simultaneously whole comprises all time, as said above (I:10:2). Hence all things that are in time are present to God from eternity, not only because He has the types of things present within Him, as some say; but because His glance is carried from eternity over all things as they are in their presentiality. Hence it is manifest that contingent things are infallibly known by God, inasmuch as they are subject to the divine sight in their presentiality; yet they are future contingent things in relation to their own causes.

 

ST. I, Q. 14, A. 13.

Dec 26, 2016

Merry Christmas, everyone. This podcast contains a talk by philosopher Dr. Peter Kreeft on the holy angels.

Learn more about Kreeft and listen to other talks by him here: http://peterkreeft.com/home.htm

And get my book here: https://www.amazon.com/Pints-Aquinas-Thoughts-Angelic-Doctor/dp/0692752404

Dec 20, 2016

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THE ANGELIC SALUTATION
by
Thomas Aquinas
translated by Joseph B. Collins



“Hail Mary”


We must now consider concerning the first part of this prayer that in ancient times it was no small event when Angels appeared to men; and that man should show them reverence was especially praiseworthy. Thus, it is written to the praise of Abraham that he received the Angels with all courtesy and showed them reverence. But that an Angel should show reverence to a man was never heard of until the Angel reverently greeted the Blessed Virgin saying: “Hail.”


In olden time an Angel would not show reverence to a man, but a man would deeply revere an Angel. This is because Angels are greater than men, and indeed in three ways. First, they are greater than men in dignity. This is because the Angel is of a spiritual nature: “You make your angels spirits” [Ps 103:4]. But, on the other hand, man is of a corruptible nature, for Abraham said: “I will speak to my Lord, whereas I am dust and ashes” [Gen 18:27]. It was not fitting, therefore, that a spiritual and incorruptible creature should show reverence to one that is corruptible as is a man. Secondly, an Angel is closer to God. The Angel, indeed, is of the family of God, and as it were stands ever by Him: “Thousands of thousands ministered to Him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before Him” [Dan 7:10]. Man, on the other hand, is rather a stranger and afar off from God because of sin: “I have gone afar off” [Ps 44:8]. Therefore, it is fitting that man should reverence an Angel who is an intimate and one of the household of the King.


Then, thirdly, the Angels far exceed men in the fullness of the splendor of divine grace. For Angels participate in the highest degree in the divine light: “Is there any numbering of His soldiers? And upon whom shall not His light arise?”[Job 25:3]. Hence, the Angels always appear among men clothed in light, hut men on the contrary, although they partake somewhat of the light of grace, nevertheless do so in a much slighter degree and with a certain obscurity. It was, therefore, not fitting that an Angel should show reverence to a man until it should come to pass that one would be found in human nature who exceeded the Angels in these three points in which we have seen that they excel over men—and this was the Blessed Virgin. To show that she excelled the Angels in these, the Angel desired to show her reverence, and so he said: “Ave (Hail).”


“Full of grace”


The Blessed Virgin was superior to any of the Angels in the fullness of grace, and as an indication of this the Angel showed reverence to her by saying: “Full of grace.” This is as if he said: “I show you reverence because you dost excel me in the fullness of grace.”


The Blessed Virgin is said to be full of grace in three ways. First, as regards her soul she was full of grace. The grace of God is given for two chief purposes, namely, to do good and to avoid evil. The Blessed Virgin, then, received grace in the most perfect degree, because she had avoided every sin more than any other Saint after Christ. Thus it is said: “You are fair, My beloved, and there is not a spot in you” [Sg 4:7]. St. Augustine says: “If we could bring together all the Saints and ask them if they were entirely without sin, all of them, with the exception of the Blessed Virgin, would say with one voice: ‘If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.’[1 Jn 1:8]. I except, however, this holy Virgin of whom, because of the honor of God, I wish to omit all mention of sin” [De natura et gratia 36]. For we know that to her was granted grace to overcome every kind of sin by Him whom she merited to conceive and bring forth, and He certainly was wholly without sin.


Christ excelled the Blessed Virgin in this, that He was conceived and born without original sin, while the Blessed Virgin was conceived in original sin, but was not born in it. [as in Summa, but otherwise in I Sent., c. 44, q. 1, ad. 3]. She exercised the works of all the virtues, whereas the Saints are conspicuous for the exercise of certain special virtues. Thus, one excelled in humility, another in chastity, another in mercy, to the extent that they are the special exemplars of these virtues—as, for example, St. Nicholas is an exemplar of the virtue of mercy. The Blessed Virgin is the exemplar of all the virtues.


In her is the fullness of the virtue of humility: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord” [Lk 1:38]. And again: “He has looked on the humility of his handmaid” [Lk 1:48]. So she is also exemplar of the virtue of chastity: “Because I know not man” [Lk 1:34]. And thus it is with all the virtues, as is evident. Mary was full of grace not only in the performance of all good, but also in the avoidance of all evil. Again, the Blessed Virgin was full of grace in the overflowing effect of this grace upon her flesh or body. For while it is a great thing in the Saints that the abundance of grace sanctified their souls, yet, moreover, the soul of the holy Virgin was so filled with grace that from her soul grace poured into her flesh from which was conceived the Son of God. Hugh of St. Victor says of this: “Because the love of the Holy Spirit so inflamed her soul, He worked a wonder in her flesh, in that from it was born God made Man.” “And therefore also the Holy which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God” [Lk 1:35].


The plenitude of grace in Mary was such that its effects overflow upon all men. It is a great thing in a Saint when he has grace to bring about the salvation of many, but it is exceedingly wonderful when grace is of such abundance as to be sufficient for the salvation of all men in the world, and this is true of Christ and of the Blessed Virgin. Thus, “a thousand bucklers,” that is, remedies against dangers, “hang therefrom” [Sg 4:4]. Likewise, in every work of virtue one can have her as one’s helper. Of her it was spoken: “In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue” [Sir 24:25]. Therefore, Mary is full of grace, exceeding the Angels in this fullness and very fittingly is she called “Mary” which means “in herself enlightened”: “The Lord will fill your soul with brightness” [Is 48:11]. And she will illumine others throughout the world for which reason she is compared to the sun and to the moon.


“The Lord is with you”


The Blessed Virgin excels the Angels in her closeness to God. The Angel Gabriel indicated this when he said: “The Lord is with you”—as if to say: “I reverence you because you art nearer to God than I, because the Lord is with you.” By the Lord; he means the Father with the Son and the Holy Spirit, who in like manner are not with any Angel or any other spirit: “The Holy which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God” [Lk 1:35]. God the Son was in her womb: “Rejoice and praise, O you habitation of Sion; for great is He that is in the midst of you, the Holy One of Israel” [Is 12:6].


The Lord is not with the Angel in the same manner as with the Blessed Virgin; for with her He is as a Son, and with the Angel He is the Lord. The Lord, the Holy Ghost, is in her as in a temple, so that it is said: “The temple of the Lord, the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit,” [Benedictus antiphon from the Little Office of Blessed Virgin], because she conceived by the Holy Ghost. “The Holy Ghost shall come upon you” [Lk 1:35]. The Blessed Virgin is closer to God than is an Angel, because with her are the Lord the Father, the Lord the Son, and the Lord the Holy Ghost—in a word, the Holy Trinity. Indeed of her we sing: “Noble resting place of the Triune God.” “The Lord is with you” are the most praiseladen words that the Angel could have uttered; and, hence, he so profoundly reverenced the Blessed Virgin because she is the Mother of the Lord and Our Lady. Accordingly she is very well named “Mary,” which in the Syrian tongue means “Lady.”


“Blessed art you among women”


The Blessed Virgin exceeds the Angels in purity. She is not only pure, but she obtains purity for others. She is purity itself, wholly lacking in every guilt of sin, for she never incurred either mortal or venial sin. So, too, she was free from the penalties of sin. Sinful man, on the contrary, incurs a threefold curse on account of sin. The first fell upon woman who conceives in corruption, bears her child with difficulty, and brings it forth in pain. The Blessed Virgin was wholly free from this, since she conceived without corruption, bore her Child in comfort, and brought Him forth in joy: “It shall bud forth and blossom, and shall rejoice with joy and praise” [Is 35:2].


The second penalty was inflicted upon man in that he shall earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. The Blessed Virgin was also immune from this because, as the Apostle says, virgins are free from the cares of this world and are occupied wholly with the things of the Lord [1 Cor 7:34].


The third curse is common both to man and woman in that both shall one day return to dust. The Blessed Virgin was spared this penalty, for her body was raised up into heaven, and so we believe that after her death she was revived and transported into heaven: “Arise, O Lord, into your resting place, You and the ark which You hast sanctified” [Ps 131:8]. Because the Blessed Virgin was immune from these punishments, she is “blessed among women.” Moreover, she alone escaped the curse of sin, brought forth the Source of blessing, and opened the gate of heaven. It is surely fitting that her name is “Mary,” which is akin to the Star of the Sea (“Maria--maris stella”), for just as sailors are directed to port by the star of the sea, so also Christians are by Mary guided to glory.


“Blessed is the fruit of your womb”


The sinner often seeks for something which he does not find; but to the just man it is given to find what he seeks: “The substance of the sinner is kept for the just” [Prov 13:22]. Thus, Eve sought the fruit of the tree (of good and evil), but she did not find in it that which she sought. Everything Eve desired, however, was given to the Blessed Virgin. Eve sought that which the devil falsely promised her, namely, that she and Adam would be as gods, knowing good and evil. “You shall be,” says this liar, “as gods” [Gen 3:5]. But he lied, because “he is a liar and the father of lies” [Jn 8:44]. Eve was not made like God after having eaten of the fruit, but rather she was unlike God in that by her sin she withdrew from God and was driven out of paradise. The Blessed Virgin, however, and all Christians found in the Fruit of her womb Him whereby we are all united to God and are made like to Him: “When He shall appear, we shall be like to Him, because we shall see Him as He is” [1 Jn 3:2].


Eve looked for pleasure in the fruit of the tree because it was good to eat. But she did not find this pleasure in it, and, on the contrary, she at once discovered she was naked and was stricken with sorrow. In the Fruit of the Blessed Virgin we find sweetness and salvation: “He who eats My flesh... has eternal life” [Jn 6:55].


The fruit which Eve desired was beautiful to look upon, but that Fruit of the Blessed Virgin is far more beautiful, for the Angels desire to look upon Him: “You are beautiful above the sons of men” [Ps 44:3]. He is the splendor of the glory of the Father. Eve, therefore, looked in vain for that which she sought in the fruit of the tree, just as the sinner is disappointed in his sins. We must seek in the Fruit of the womb of the Virgin Mary whatsoever we desire. This is He who is the Fruit blessed by God, who has filled Him with every grace, which in turn is poured out upon us who adore Him: “Blessed be God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with spiritual blessings in Christ” [Eph 1:3]. He, too, is revered by the Angels: “Benediction and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving, honor and power and strength, to our God” [Rev 7:12]. And He is glorified by men: “Every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father” [Phil 2:11]. The Blessed Virgin is indeed blessed, but far more blessed is the Fruit of her womb: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” [Ps 117:26].

 

Dec 13, 2016

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Objection 1. It would seem that the saints in heaven do not pray for us. A man's action is more meritorious for himself than for others. But the saints in heaven do not merit for themselves, neither do they pray for themselves, since they are already established in the term. Neither therefore do they pray for us.

Objection 2. Further, the saints conform their will to God perfectly, so that they will only what God wills. Now what God wills is always fulfilled. Therefore it would be useless for the saints to pray for us.

Objection 3. Further, just as the saints in heaven are above, so are those in Purgatory, for they can no longer sin. Now those in Purgatory do not pray for us, on the contrary we pray for them. Therefore neither do the saints in heaven pray for us.

Objection 4. Further, if the saints in heaven pray for us, the prayers of the higher saints would be more efficacious; and so we ought not to implore the help of the lower saints' prayers but only of those of the higher saints.

Objection 5. Further, the soul of Peter is not Peter. If therefore the souls of the saints pray for us, so long as they are separated from their bodies, we ought not to call upon Saint Peter, but on his soul, to pray for us: yet the Church does the contrary. The saints therefore do not pray for us, at least before the resurrection.

On the contrary, It is written (2 Maccabees 15:14): "This is . . . he that prayeth much for the people, and for all the holy city, Jeremias the prophet of God."

I answer that, As Jerome says (Cont. Vigilant. 6), the error of Vigilantius consisted in saying that "while we live, we can pray one for another; but that after we are dead, none of our prayers for others can be heard, seeing that not even the martyrs' prayers are granted when they pray for their blood to be avenged." But this is absolutely false, because, since prayers offered for others proceed from charity, as stated above (Articles 7 and 8), the greater the charity of the saints in heaven, the more they pray for wayfarers, since the latter can be helped by prayers: and the more closely they are united to God, the more are their prayers efficacious: for the Divine order is such that lower beings receive an overflow of the excellence of the higher, even as the air receives the brightness of the sun. Wherefore it is said of Christ (Hebrews 7:25): "Going to God by His own power . . . to make intercession for us" [Vulgate: 'He is able to save for ever them that come to God by Him, always living to make intercession for us.']. Hence Jerome says (Cont. Vigilant. 6): "If the apostles and martyrs while yet in the body and having to be solicitous for themselves, can pray for others, how much more now that they have the crown of victory and triumph."

Reply to Objection 1. The saints in heaven, since they are blessed, have no lack of bliss, save that of the body's glory, and for this they pray. But they pray for us who lack the ultimate perfection of bliss: and their prayers are efficacious in impetrating through their previous merits and through God's acceptance.

Reply to Objection 2. The saints impetrate what ever God wishes to take place through their prayers: and they pray for that which they deem will be granted through their prayers according to God's will.

Reply to Objection 3. Those who are in Purgatory though they are above us on account of their impeccability, yet they are below us as to the pains which they suffer: and in this respect they are not in a condition to pray, but rather in a condition that requires us to pray for them.

Reply to Objection 4. It is God's will that inferior beings should be helped by all those that are above them, wherefore we ought to pray not only to the higher but also to the lower saints; else we should have to implore the mercy of God alone. Nevertheless it happens sometime that prayers addressed to a saint of lower degree are more efficacious, either because he is implored with greater devotion, or because God wishes to make known his sanctity.

Reply to Objection 5. It is because the saints while living merited to pray for us, that we invoke them under the names by which they were known in this life, and by which they are better known to us: and also in order to indicate our belief in the resurrection, according to the saying of Exodus 3:6, "I am the God of Abraham," etc.

Dec 6, 2016

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Objection 1. It would seem that the star which appeared to the Magi belonged to the heavenly system. For Augustine says in a sermon on the Epiphany (cxxii): "While God yet clings to the breast, and suffers Himself to be wrapped in humble swaddling clothes, suddenly a new star shines forth in the heavens." Therefore the star which appeared to the Magi belonged to the heavenly system.

Objection 2. Further, Augustine says in a sermon on the Epiphany (cci): "Christ was made known to the shepherds by angels, to the Magi by a star. A heavenly tongue speaks to both, because the tongue of the prophets spoke no longer." But the angels who appeared to the shepherds were really angels from heaven. Therefore also the star which appeared to the Magi was really a star from the heavens.

Objection 3. Further, stars which are not in the heavens but in the air are called comets, which do not appear at the birth of kings, but rather are signs of their approaching death. But this star was a sign of the King's birth: wherefore the Magi said (Matthew 2:2): "Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east." Therefore it seems that it was a star from the heavens.

On the contrary, Augustine says (Contra Faust. ii): "It was not one of those stars which since the beginning of the creation observe the course appointed to them by the Creator; but this star was a stranger to the heavens, and made its appearance at the strange sight of a virgin in childbirth."

I answer that, As Chrysostom says (Hom. vi in Matth.), it is clear, for many reasons, that the star which appeared to the Magi did not belong to the heavenly system. First, because no other star approaches from the same quarter as this star, whose course was from north to south, these being the relative positions of Persia, whence the Magi came, and Judea. Secondly, from the time [at which it was seen]. For it appeared not only at night, but also at midday: and no star can do this, not even the moon. Thirdly, because it was visible at one time and hidden at another. For when they entered Jerusalem it hid itself: then, when they had left Herod, it showed itself again. Fourthly, because its movement was not continuous, but when the Magi had to continue their journey the star moved on; when they had to stop the star stood still; as happened to the pillar of a cloud in the desert. Fifthly, because it indicated the virginal Birth, not by remaining aloft, but by coming down below. For it is written (Matthew 2:9) that "the star which they had seen in the east went before them, until it came and stood over where the child was." Whence it is evident that the words of the Magi, "We have seen His star in the east," are to be taken as meaning, not that when they were in the east the star appeared over the country of Judea, but that when they saw the star it was in the east, and that it preceded them into Judea (although this is considered doubtful by some). But it could not have indicated the house distinctly, unless it were near the earth. And, as he [Chrysostom] observes, this does not seem fitting to a star, but "of some power endowed with reason." Consequently "it seems that this was some invisible force made visible under the form of a star."

Wherefore some say that, as the Holy Ghost, after our Lord's Baptism, came down on Him under the form of a dove, so did He appear to the Magi under the form of a star. While others say that the angel who, under a human form, appeared to the shepherds, under the form of a star, appeared to the Magi. But it seems more probable that it was a newly created star, not in the heavens, but in the air near the earth, and that its movement varied according to God's will. Wherefore Pope Leo says in a sermon on the Epiphany (xxxi): "A star of unusual brightness appeared to the three Magi in the east, which, through being more brilliant and more beautiful than the other stars, drew men's gaze and attention: so that they understood at once that such an unwonted event could not be devoid of purpose."

Reply to Objection 1. In Holy Scripture the air is sometimes called the heavens--for instance, "The birds of the heavens [Douay: 'air'] and the fishes of the sea."

Reply to Objection 2. The angels of heaven, by reason of their very office, come down to us, being "sent to minister." But the stars of heaven do not change their position. Wherefore there is no comparison.

Reply to Objection 3. As the star did not follow the course of the heavenly stars, so neither did it follow the course of the comets, which neither appear during the daytime nor vary their customary course. Nevertheless in its signification it has something in common with the comets. Because the heavenly kingdom of Christ "shall break in pieces, and shall consume all the kingdoms" of the earth, "and itself shall stand for ever" (Daniel 2:44).

 

ST III, Q. 36, A. 8.

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Read Chrysostom's homily Aquinas refers to here - http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/200106.htm

 

Nov 29, 2016

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The third way is taken from possibility and necessity, and runs thus. We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, since they are found to be generated, and to corrupt, and consequently, they are possible to be and not to be. But it is impossible for these always to exist, for that which is possible not to be at some time is not. Therefore, if everything is possible not to be, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence. Now if this were true, even now there would be nothing in existence, because that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing. Therefore, if at one time nothing was in existence, it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to exist; and thus even now nothing would be in existence — which is absurd. Therefore, not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist something the existence of which is necessary. But every necessary thing either has its necessity caused by another, or not. Now it is impossible to go on to infinity in necessary things which have their necessity caused by another, as has been already proved in regard to efficient causes. Therefore we cannot but postulate the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity, and not receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity. This all men speak of as God.

 

ST 1. Q. 2, A 3.

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The 13 step argument given by Robert in the interview:

1. We find in reality some things that are capable of existing and not existing, because they are found to be generated and to corrupt.
 
2. We call such beings possible beings.
 
3. A possible being cannot be the cause of its own existence.
 
4. This is so for two reasons: (1) It would already have to exist in order to cause its own existence, but if it already exists then it does not need to cause its own existence, and (2) If it caused its own existence then it would be both prior to itself and also not prior to itself, which is a contradiction and thus impossible.
 
5. Therefore a possible being must get its existence from a cause that exists external to it.
 
6. It is impossible that everything which exists is a possible being.
 
7. The reason is that nothing could have begun to exist in reality if everything were a possible being because a possible being only comes to exist through an already existing cause external to it, which would not exist if everything were a possible being.
 
8. But if nothing could have begun to exist in reality then nothing would have existed in the past and nothing would exist now, because “from nothing, nothing comes.”
 
9. But this is absurd because things exist now.
 
10. Thus not all things are possible beings—at least one necessary being must exist.
 
11. There are 2 ways for a being to be necessary: (1) it can get its necessity from another; (2) it can get its necessity from itself (per se).
 
12. If it has its necessity from another, then it requires a cause external to it.
 
13. An infinity of beings that get their necessity from another would not explain how anything came to exist, just as it is clear from the above that an infinity of possible beings would not explain how anything came to be.
 
Conclusion: There must be a cause that has of itself (per se) its own necessity (i.e., it does not receive necessity from another), and on which all other beings are, ultimately, dependent for their existence. And this we call God.
 
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Robert mentioned a paper, "There must be a First: Why Thomas Aquinas Rejects Infinite, Essentially Ordered, Causal Series." Read it here: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09608788.2013.816934
Nov 22, 2016

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Objection 1. It would seem that it is not necessary to confess to a priest. For we are not bound to confession, except in virtue of its Divine institution. Now its Divine institution is made known to us (James 5:16): "Confess your sins, one to another," where there is no mention of a priest. Therefore it is not necessary to confess to a priest.

Objection 2. Further, Penance is a necessary sacrament, as is also Baptism. But any man is the minister of Baptism, on account of its necessity. Therefore any man is the minister of Penance. Now confession should be made to the minister of Penance. Therefore it suffices to confess to anyone.

Objection 3. Further, confession is necessary in order that the measure of satisfaction should be imposed on the penitent. Now, sometimes another than a priest might be more discreet than many priests are in imposing the measure of satisfaction on the penitent. Therefore it is not necessary to confess to a priest.

Objection 4. Further, confession was instituted in the Church in order that the rectors might know their sheep by sight. But sometimes a rector or prelate is not a priest. Therefore confession should not always be made to a priest.

On the contrary, The absolution of the penitent, for the sake of which he makes his confession, is imparted by none but priests to whom the keys are intrusted. Therefore confession should be made to a priest.

Further, confession is foreshadowed in the raising of the dead Lazarus to life. Now our Lord commanded none but the disciples to loose Lazarus (John 11:44). Therefore confession should be made to a priest.

I answer that, The grace which is given in the sacraments, descends from the Head to the members. Wherefore he alone who exercises a ministry over Christ's true body is a minister of the sacraments, wherein grace is given; and this belongs to a priest alone, who can consecrate the Eucharist. Therefore, since grace is given in the sacrament of Penance, none but a priest is the minister of the sacrament: and consequently sacramental confession which should be made to a minister of the Church, should be made to none but a priest.

Reply to Objection 1. James speaks on the presupposition of the Divine institutions: and since confession had already been prescribed by God to be made to a priest, in that He empowered them, in the person of the apostles, to forgive sins, as related in John 20:23, we must take the words of James as conveying an admonishment to confess to priests.

Reply to Objection 2. Baptism is a sacrament of greater necessity than Penance, as regards confession and absolution, because sometimes Baptism cannot be omitted without loss of eternal salvation, as in the case of children who have not come to the use of reason: whereas this cannot be said of confession and absolution, which regard none but adults, in whom contrition, together with the purpose of confessing and the desire of absolution, suffices to deliver them from everlasting death. Consequently there is no parity between Baptism and confession.

Reply to Objection 3. In satisfaction we must consider not only the quantity of the punishment but also its power, inasmuch as it is part of a sacrament. In this way it requires a dispenser of the sacraments, though the quantity of the punishment may be fixed by another than a priest.

Reply to Objection 4. It may be necessary for two reasons to know the sheep by sight. First, in order to register them as members of Christ's flock, and to know the sheep by sight thus belongs to the pastoral charge and care, which is sometimes the duty of those who are not priests. Secondly, that they may be provided with suitable remedies for their health; and to know the sheep by sight thus belongs to the man, i.e. the priest, whose business it is to provide remedies conducive to health, such as the sacrament of the Eucharist, and other like things. It is to this knowledge of the sheep that confession is ordained.

 

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Quotes from the early Church (taken from Catholic.com)

 

The Didache

 

"Confess your sins in church, and do not go up to your prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of life. . . . On the Lord’s Day gather together, break bread, and give thanks, after confessing your transgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure" (Didache 4:14, 14:1 [A.D. 70]). 

 

The Letter of Barnabas

 

"You shall judge righteously. You shall not make a schism, but you shall pacify those that contend by bringing them together. You shall confess your sins. You shall not go to prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of light" (Letter of Barnabas 19 [A.D. 74]). 

 

Ignatius of Antioch

 

"For as many as are of God and of Jesus Christ are also with the bishop. And as many as shall, in the exercise of penance, return into the unity of the Church, these, too, shall belong to God, that they may live according to Jesus Christ" (Letter to the Philadelphians 3 [A.D. 110]). 

"For where there is division and wrath, God does not dwell. To all them that repent, the Lord grants forgiveness, if they turn in penitence to the unity of God, and to communion with the bishop" (ibid., 8). 

 

Irenaeus

 

"[The Gnostic disciples of Marcus] have deluded many women. . . . Their consciences have been branded as with a hot iron. Some of these women make a public confession, but others are ashamed to do this, and in silence, as if withdrawing from themselves the hope of the life of God, they either apostatize entirely or hesitate between the two courses" (Against Heresies 1:22 [A.D. 189]). 

 

Tertullian

 

"[Regarding confession, some] flee from this work as being an exposure of themselves, or they put it off from day to day. I presume they are more mindful of modesty than of salvation, like those who contract a disease in the more shameful parts of the body and shun making themselves known to the physicians; and thus they perish along with their own bashfulness" (Repentance 10:1 [A.D. 203]). 

 

Hippolytus

 

"[The bishop conducting the ordination of the new bishop shall pray:] God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . Pour forth now that power which comes from you, from your royal Spirit, which you gave to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and which he bestowed upon his holy apostles . . . and grant this your servant, whom you have chosen for the episcopate, [the power] to feed your holy flock and to serve without blame as your high priest, ministering night and day to propitiate unceasingly before your face and to offer to you the gifts of your holy Church, and by the Spirit of the high priesthood to have the authority to forgive sins, in accord with your command" (Apostolic Tradition 3 [A.D. 215]). 

 

Origen

 

"[A final method of forgiveness], albeit hard and laborious [is] the remission of sins through penance, when the sinner . . . does not shrink from declaring his sin to a priest of the Lord and from seeking medicine, after the manner of him who say, ‘I said, "To the Lord I will accuse myself of my iniquity"’" (Homilies on Leviticus 2:4 [A.D. 248]). 

 

Cyprian of Carthage

 

"The apostle [Paul] likewise bears witness and says: ‘ . . . Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord’ [1 Cor. 11:27]. But [the impenitent] spurn and despise all these warnings; before their sins are expiated, before they have made a confession of their crime, before their conscience has been purged in the ceremony and at the hand of the priest . . . they do violence to [the Lord’s] body and blood, and with their hands and mouth they sin against the Lord more than when they denied him" (The Lapsed 15:1–3 (A.D. 251]). 

"Of how much greater faith and salutary fear are they who . . . confess their sins to the priests of God in a straightforward manner and in sorrow, making an open declaration of conscience. . . . I beseech you, brethren, let everyone who has sinned confess his sin while he is still in this world, while his confession is still admissible, while the satisfaction and remission made through the priests are still pleasing before the Lord" (ibid., 28). 

"[S]inners may do penance for a set time, and according to the rules of discipline come to public confession, and by imposition of the hand of the bishop and clergy receive the right of Communion. [But now some] with their time [of penance] still unfulfilled . . . they are admitted to Communion, and their name is presented; and while the penitence is not yet performed, confession is not yet made, the hands of the bishop and clergy are not yet laid upon them, the Eucharist is given to them; although it is written, ‘Whosoever shall eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord’ [1 Cor. 11:27]" (Letters 9:2 [A.D. 253]). 

"And do not think, dearest brother, that either the courage of the brethren will be lessened, or that martyrdoms will fail for this cause, that penance is relaxed to the lapsed, and that the hope of peace [i.e., absolution] is offered to the penitent. . . . For to adulterers even a time of repentance is granted by us, and peace is given" (ibid., 51[55]:20). 

"But I wonder that some are so obstinate as to think that repentance is not to be granted to the lapsed, or to suppose that pardon is to be denied to the penitent, when it is written, ‘Remember whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works’ [Rev. 2:5], which certainly is said to him who evidently has fallen, and whom the Lord exhorts to rise up again by his deeds [of penance], because it is written, ‘Alms deliver from death’ [Tob. 12:9]" (ibid., 51[55]:22). 

 

Aphraahat the Persian Sage

 

"You [priests], then, who are disciples of our illustrious physician [Christ], you ought not deny a curative to those in need of healing. And if anyone uncovers his wound before you, give him the remedy of repentance. And he that is ashamed to make known his weakness, encourage him so that he will not hide it from you. And when he has revealed it to you, do not make it public, lest because of it the innocent might be reckoned as guilty by our enemies and by those who hate us" (Treatises 7:3 [A.D. 340]). 

 

Basil the Great

 

"It is necessary to confess our sins to those to whom the dispensation of God’s mysteries is entrusted. Those doing penance of old are found to have done it before the saints. It is written in the Gospel that they confessed their sins to John the Baptist [Matt. 3:6], but in Acts [19:18] they confessed to the apostles" (Rules Briefly Treated 288 [A.D. 374]). 

 

Nov 15, 2016

Objection 1. It seems that flattery is not a sin. For flattery consists in words of praise offered to another in order to please him. But it is not a sin to praise a person, according to Proverbs 31:28, "Her children rose up and called her blessed: her husband, and he praised her." Moreover, there is no evil in wishing to please others, according to 1 Corinthians 10:33, "I . . . in all things please all men." Therefore flattery is not a sin.

Objection 2. Further, evil is contrary to good, and blame to praise. But it is not a sin to blame evil. Neither, then, is it a sin to praise good, which seems to belong to flattery. Therefore flattery is not a sin.

Objection 3. Further, detraction is contrary to flattery. Wherefore Gregory says (Moral. xxii, 5) that detraction is a remedy against flattery. "It must be observed," says he, "that by the wonderful moderation of our Ruler, we are often allowed to be rent by detractions but are uplifted by immoderate praise, so that whom the voice of the flatterer upraises, the tongue of the detractor may humble." But detraction is an evil, as stated above (II-II:73:3). Therefore flattery is a good.

On the contrary, A gloss on Ezekiel 13:18, "Woe to them that sew cushions under every elbow," says, "that is to say, sweet flattery." Therefore flattery is a sin.

I answer that, As stated above (II-II:114:1 ad 3), although the friendship of which we have been speaking, or affability, intends chiefly the pleasure of those among whom one lives, yet it does not fear to displease when it is a question of obtaining a certain good, or of avoiding a certain evil. Accordingly, if a man were to wish always to speak pleasantly to others, he would exceed the mode of pleasing, and would therefore sin by excess. If he do this with the mere intention of pleasing he is said to be "complaisant," according to the Philosopher (Ethic. iv, 6): whereas if he do it with the intention of making some gain out of it, he is called a "flatterer" or "adulator." As a rule, however, the term "flattery" is wont to be applied to all who wish to exceed the mode of virtue in pleasing others by words or deeds in their ordinary behavior towards their fellows.

Reply to Objection 1. One may praise a person both well and ill, according as one observes or omits the due circumstances. For if while observing other due circumstances one were to wish to please a person by praising him, in order thereby to console him, or that he may strive to make progress in good, this will belong to the aforesaid virtue of friendship. But it would belong to flattery, if one wished to praise a person for things in which he ought not to be praised; since perhaps they are evil, according to Psalm 9:24, "The sinner is praised in the desires of his soul"; or they may be uncertain, according to Sirach 27:8, "Praise not a man before he speaketh," and again (Sirach 11:2), "Praise not a man for his beauty"; or because there may be fear lest human praise should incite him to vainglory, wherefore it is written, (Sirach 11:30), "Praise not any man before death." Again, in like manner it is right to wish to please a man in order to foster charity, so that he may make spiritual progress therein. But it would be sinful to wish to please men for the sake of vainglory or gain, or to please them in something evil, according to Psalm 52:6, "God hath scattered the bones of them that please men," and according to the words of the Apostle (Galatians 1:10), "If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."

Reply to Objection 2. Even to blame evil is sinful, if due circumstances be not observed; and so too is it to praise good.

Reply to Objection 3. Nothing hinders two vices being contrary to one another. Wherefore even as detraction is evil, so is flattery, which is contrary thereto as regards what is said, but not directly as regards the end. Because flattery seeks to please the person flattered, whereas the detractor seeks not the displeasure of the person defamed, since at times he defames him in secret, but seeks rather his defamation.

 

 

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Objection 1. It seems that flattery is a mortal sin. For, according to Augustine (Enchiridion xii), "a thing is evil because it is harmful." But flattery is most harmful, according to Psalm 9:24, "For the sinner is praised in the desires of his soul, and the unjust man is blessed. The sinner hath provoked the Lord." Wherefore Jerome says (Ep. ad Celant): "Nothing so easily corrupts the human mind as flattery": and a gloss on Psalm 69:4, "Let them be presently turned away blushing for shame that say to me: 'Tis well, 'Tis well," says: "The tongue of the flatterer harms more than the sword of the persecutor." Therefore flattery is a most grievous sin.

 

On the contrary, Augustine in a sermon on Purgatory (xli, de Sanctis) reckons among slight sins, "if one desire to flatter any person of higher standing, whether of one's own choice, or out of necessity."

I answer that, As stated above (II-II:112:2), a mortal sin is one that is contrary to charity. Now flattery is sometimes contrary to charity and sometimes not. It is contrary to charity in three ways. First, by reason of the very matter, as when one man praises another's sin: for this is contrary to the love of God, against Whose justice he speaks, and contrary to the love of his neighbor, whom he encourages to sin. Wherefore this is a mortal sin, according to Isaiah 5:20. "Woe to you that call evil good." Secondly, by reason of the intention, as when one man flatters another, so that by deceiving him he may injure him in body or in soul; this is also a mortal sin, and of this it is written (Proverbs 27:6): "Better are the wounds of a friend than the deceitful kisses of an enemy." Thirdly, by way of occasion, as when the praise of a flatterer, even without his intending it, becomes to another an occasion of sin. On this case it is necessary to consider, whether the occasion were given or taken, and how grievous the consequent downfall, as may be understood from what has been said above concerning scandal (II-II:43:4). If, however, one man flatters another from the mere craving to please others, or again in order to avoid some evil, or to acquire something in a case of necessity, this is not contrary to charity. Consequently it is not a mortal but a venial sin.

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Nov 1, 2016

[I]t is superfluous to suppose that what can be accounted for by a few principles has been produced by many. But it seems that everything we see in the world can be accounted for by other principles, supposing God did not exist. For all natural things can be reduced to one principle which is nature; and all voluntary things can be reduced to one principle which is human reason, or will. Therefore there is no need to suppose God's existence.

- ST I. Q, 2. A, 3.

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Oct 25, 2016

In this third part of our series on logic and argumentation I discuss 7 more logical fallacies as well as 3 things necessary for constructive discourse.

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Oct 18, 2016

Get my DVD How To Win An Argument Without Losing a Soul http://shop.catholic.com/how-to-win-an-argument-without-losing-a-soul.html

Use promo code "PINTS" to get 30% off (code valid till the end of 2016).

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Today we discuss 7 common logical fallacies:

1. Self-referential incoherence: A position that when applied to itself refutes itself.

2. Straw man: Refuting a weaker version of your opponents position)

3. Ad hominem (Against the man): Attacking the person making the argument instead of the argument.

4. Tu quoque ("You too"): Accusing your opponent of committing the same thing he is accusing you of.

5. Genetic fallacy: Refuting an argument because of how it originated.

6. Ad baculum (Appeal to force): Appealing to force instead of reason. 

7. Ad ignominiam (Appeal to shame): Appealing to shame instead of reason.

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Oct 11, 2016

You've been asking me for some episodes on logic and argumentation so here you go! This is the first part in a three part series on logic and argumentation. Today we'll discuss what an argument is and why we should argue! We'll also look at the two main types of arguments and what the three things are that is necessary for a good argument.

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Oct 4, 2016


I answer that it must be said that gifts of grace are added to those of nature in such a way that they do not destroy the latter, but rather perfect them; wherefore also the light of faith, which is gratuitously infused into our minds, does not destroy the natural light of cognition, which is in us by nature. For although the natural light of the human mind is insufficient to reveal those truths revealed by faith, yet it is impossible that those things which God has manifested to us by faith should be contrary to those which are evident to us by natural knowledge. In this case one would necessarily be false: and since both kinds of truth are from God, God would be the author of error, a thing which is impossible. Rather, since in imperfect things there is found some imitation of the perfect, though the image is deficient, in those things known by natural reason there are certain similitudes of the truths revealed by faith.

Now, as sacred doctrine is founded upon the light of faith, so philosophy depends upon the light of natural reason; wherefore it is impossible that philosophical truths are contrary to those that are of faith; but they are deficient as compared to them. Nevertheless they incorporate some similitudes of those higher truths, and some things that are preparatory for them, just as nature is the preamble to grace
 

If, however, anything is found in the teachings of the philosophers contrary to faith, this error does not properly belong to philosophy, but is due to an abuse of philosophy owing to the insufficiency of reason. Therefore also it is possible from the principles of philosophy to refute an error of this kind, either by showing it to be altogether impossible, or not to be necessary. For just as those things which are of faith cannot be demonstratively proved, so certain things contrary to them cannot be demonstratively shown to be false, but they can be shown not to be necessary.

Thus, in sacred doctrine we are able to make a threefold use of philosophy:

1. First, to demonstrate those truths that are preambles of faith and that have a necessary place in the science of faith. Such are the truths about God that can be proved by natural reason—that God exists, that God is one; such truths about God or about His creatures, subject to philosophical proof, faith presupposes.

2. Secondly, to give a clearer notion, by certain similitudes, of the truths of faith, as Augustine in his book, De Trinitate, employed any comparisons taken from the teachings of the philosophers to aid understanding of the Trinity.

3. In the third place, to resist those who speak against the faith, either by showing that their statements are false, or by showing that they are not necessarily true.

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